Myanmar Junta’s Worst Massacres of 2021

By The Irrawaddy 30 December 2021

Myanmar’s military regime appears happy to intensify its atrocities against the people of Myanmar and to continue its violent suppression of both the anti-coup movement and armed resistance to military rule. Since the junta’s February 1 coup, the regime has frequently committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

At least 1,382 people have been killed since the coup during crackdowns, raids, arrests, and interrogations. Those killed range from anti-regime activists to bystanders, children and students.

Another 11,250 people, including democratically elected government leaders, have been detained by the junta.

The military regime has used live ammunition, grenades and automatic weapons to attack peaceful anti-coup protesters, labeling them ‘rioters’. Now it is deploying helicopter gunships, jet fighters, artillery, gunboats, drones and tanks to attack the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) – civilian armed resistance groups – describing them as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’.

Regime forces have randomly killed civilians in their operations against the PDFs, massacring and burning some of them alive, while also using civilian detainees as human shields, bombarding residential areas, looting and burning down houses and committing acts of sexual violence.

The Irrawaddy has highlighted 14 of the worst junta massacres committed over the last 11 months.

15 anti-regime protesters killed in North Okkalapa

People lay flowers on a bloodied road in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township where 15 peaceful anti-regime protesters were killed by regime forces on March 3. Photo- CJ

15 peaceful anti-regime protesters including a pedestrian were shot dead on March 3 when regime forces sprayed bullets into a crowd of demonstrators in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township.

Junta forces also conducted lethal crackdowns on anti-regime demonstrations in townships in Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay regions and Mon State.

On March 3 alone, at least 29 people were shot dead by the military regime.

Massacre of 50 protesters in Hlaing Tharyar

A hospital mortuary in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township full of dead bodies after regime forces sprayed bullets into a crowd of anti-regime demonstrators on March 14. Photo-CJ

Around 50 protesters were killed and several dozen injured on March 14 when regime forces conducted a cold-blooded crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township. Trigger-happy junta troops opened fire on protesters, as well as bystanders and pedestrians in the township.

A total of around 80 protesters were slain on March 14, as the junta also conducted lethal crackdowns on anti-regime protests in other townships in Yangon, as well as in Bago and Mandalay regions and Hpakant in Kachin State.

The single bloodiest day since the coup

A woman mourns a relative who was among 110 protesters killed by regime troops on March 27. Photo- CJ

The Myanmar military marked the 76th Armed Forces Day on March 27 by slaughtering around 110 anti-regime protesters across the country, making it the bloodiest single day since the February 1 coup.

At least four children, ranging in age from five to 15, were among the 110 people killed in 41 locations across 10 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions.

Most of the victims were shot dead by trigger-happy soldiers and police during crackdowns on anti-regime protests.

80 civilians massacred in Bago

The funeral of a man who was among 80 people killed on April 9 by regime forces in Bago (Left), An unexploded junta explosive used in a crackdown on protesters in Bago. (Right).
Photo- CJ

Around 80 civilians including students, were massacred on April 9 by junta forces during dawn raids on the strongholds of anti-regime protesters in Bago.

At 4am on April 9, over 250 regime soldiers raided four residential wards in Bago: Shinsawpu, Nantawyar, Hmawkan and Ponnasu, where anti-coup demonstrations had taken place.

While trying to remove roadblocks erected by anti-regime protesters, troops opened fire with automatic weapons on civilians and protesters defending themselves with slingshots, fireworks and homemade airguns.

After the raids, the regime blocked the areas for days so that wounded people could not receive medical treatment and the bodies of the dead could not be removed.

82 people were murdered in the raids, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that compiles lists of regime killings and arrests.

Over 10 villagers killed in Yinmabin

Dead bodies of villagers found by locals after a clash with regime forces in Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region on April 20. Photo-CJ

Over 10 villagers were killed by regime forces on April 20 while attempting to defend themselves against raids on villages in Yinmabin Township, Sagaing Region.

Junta forces used artillery against the villagers, who were armed with traditional and homemade firearms and slingshots.

After the clash, regime troops arrested around 50 villagers from Wingone Village. The villagers were only released after a ransom was paid.

40 villagers and resistance fighters slain in Tabayin

Villagers fleeing junta raids after regime forces indiscriminately shelled civilian targets in the west of Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region on July 2. Photo-CJ

40 civilians including several children were reportedly killed by regime forces in early July during a raid on villages in the west of Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region.

Some 150 junta soldiers called in artillery strikes on civilian targets, firing around 40 artillery shells. During prolonged fighting, at least 18 villagers including six children and five university students were killed.

Six wounded civilian resistance fighters left behind after their comrades retreated were executed with shots to the head. More PDF fighters and villagers were shot dead the following day, after returning to look for the dead and wounded.

40 dead bodies found in Kani

Bodies of villagers slain by junta troops discovered near Taung Pauk Village in Kani Township, Sagaing Region on July 30. Photo-CJ

The bodies of around 40 people including a child, a disabled person and a senior citizen killed by junta troops were found in July in the resistance stronghold of Kani Township, Sagaing Region.

On July 30, the bodies of 12 detained civilians, including a 14-year-old boy, were found in Taung Pauk Village in Kani Township.

Another 16 dead civilians were found scattered in the jungle surrounding Yin Village on July 11 and 12 after villagers fled junta raids on July 8. Witnesses said the victims were shot dead by pursuing junta soldiers.

On July 28, seven more bodies were discovered, while five more were discovered the next day on farms near Zee Pin Twin village.

18 teenagers killed in Gangaw

Residents cremate the bodies of teenagers killed by regime forces on September 9 during a raid on Myintha Village, Gangaw Township, Magwe Region. Photo-CJ

18 teenagers were killed on September 9 while attempting to defend their village from a junta raid in Gangaw Township, Magwe Region.

The teenagers from Myintha Village were killed by heavy weapons, while armed only with homemade firearms. During the raid, regime forces also torched more than 20 houses in the village.

Five displaced civilians slain in Gangaw

Residents and PDF fighters cremate the bodies of displaced civilians killed on November 28 by regime forces in Gangaw Township, Magwe Region. Photo-CJ

Five displaced civilians were killed by regime forces during raids in late November on villages and refugee camps in Gangaw Township, Magwe Region.

On November 26, junta troops occupied Mouklin Village in Gangaw after seizing five villagers tending cattle outside the village. One of those seized, a 21-year-old cowhand, was killed on December 27.

Five displaced villagers were arrested on the same day when regime forces raided refugee camps in the forest using four detainees as human shields and guides.

The four detainees were later released, but four of the five displaced villagers arrested were killed by the junta. Local residents found their dead bodies in the forest and cremated them.

10 villagers burned alive

The charred bodies of 10 villagers killed by regime forces on December 7 in Don Taw Village, Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region. Photo-CJ

10 villagers, including five teenagers aged between 14 and 17, were tortured and burned alive on December 7 in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region.

After a military convoy was ambushed with mines, angry regime forces opened fire on farmers, raided nearby Don Taw Village and seized 10 residents.

Villagers later found their 10 charred bodies inside a farm hut outside the village.

All the victims had been shot and stabbed while being forced to knee with their hands tied, according to locals. They were all burned alive, a resident said.

Residents also found the body of a Don Taw woman in the farm hut. She is believed to have been killed by junta troops during the raid.

Six villagers tortured to death in Tabayin

Bodies of villagers tortured to death by regime forces found in Nagadwin Village in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region on December 11. Photo-CJ

Six villagers were tortured to death by junta soldiers during a raid on a village in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region in the second week of December.

After facing intense attacks from PDFs, which resulted in junta airstrikes, 120 regime forces raided Nagadwin Village in the west of Tabayin Township on December 7, while randomly shelling nearby villages.

On December 11, local residents found the bodies of six Nagadwin villagers who are believed to have been tortured to death by junta troops during their deployment.

Three of the six were killed while tied up. Villagers told the media that the victims were arrested while returning home. Others had been left behind by villagers escaping the raid because they were too frail to flee.

Nine civilians killed by regime airstrikes

A junta helicopter seen during the airstrike on Hnan Khar Village in Gangaw Township, Sagaing Region on December 17. Photo- CJ

Nine civilians, including two resistance fighters, were killed on December 17 by junta airstrikes that involved five aircraft on Hnan Khar Village in Gangaw Township, Magwe Region.

Two helicopter gunships attacked the village using machine guns, while around 100 junta soldiers were airlifted into the village by two other choppers. Meanwhile, a military jet fighter was hovering above the village.

The junta launched the attack in an attempt to kill or capture leaders of local PDFs who were meeting in the village. Two PDF members were killed in the raid. Five civilians in a vehicle passing though the village also died after being shot by regime troops.

Two Hnan Khar villagers who were farming and tending cattle outside the village were subsequently executed with shots to their heads while detained and tied up.

10 civilians die in junta airstrikes

Fires seen at Nat Chaung Village in Kale Township, Sagaing Region on December 27 after regime forces torched houses. Photo-CJ

10 villagers were killed on December 23 when two junta helicopter gunships indiscriminately attacked a village in Kale Township, Sagaing Region with machine guns.

The airstrikes came after a combined group from the Chinland Defense Force (Kale) and local PDFs attacked regime troops deployed at Nat Chaung Village, 24km south of Kale.

35 fleeing civilians burned alive

Relatives and PDFs bury the bodies of fleeing villagers burned alive by junta soldiers in Hpruso Township, Kayah State on December 24. Photo-CJ

35 civilians including children, women and two members of the international humanitarian group Save the Children, were burned alive in seven vehicles on December 24 by the Myanmar military in Hpruso Township, Kayah State.

The massacre happened after an hour-long battle between junta troops and the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force. The 35 civilians were fleeing from Moso Village and were burned alive after being tied up and left in the vehicles.

Four members of the Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front were tied up and shot in the head after being captured while they were negotiating with junta forces for the release of the 35 villagers.

The group had agreed a ceasefire with the former junta in 1994 and was transformed into a border guard force under military supervision.

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